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Florida Trust Administration

Does a trustee need to have an attorney?

Although there is no requirement for a trustee to have a lawyer, having an experienced trust attorney to guide you through the process is advisable to ensure compliance with statutory and fiduciary duties.

Who pays for the trustee's attorney fees?

Attorney fees for fiduciaries are considered expenses of administration and are usually payable from the trust assets. The only exception to this would be if there are claims filed against a trustee for breach of fiduciary duty or breach of trust, which requires notification to the beneficiaries and may require a court hearing to determine if the payment of attorney fees is proper.

Does a trustee have to account?

Generally, a trustee does have duty to keep beneficiaries informed and to account on an annual basis. An exception to this rule would be if you were serving as trustee of your own revocable trust (or a trust that you have the power to terminate at any time), in which case you would not have to account to yourself. Also, if the beneficiaries waive their right to receive an accounting in writing, a trustee would be relieved of a duty to account.

Accountings serve as important tools in the administration of the trust to keep beneficiaries informed and to put them on notice of trust transactions. A trustee accounting must be in particular format in accordance with the Florida trust code. It is also important for a trustee to include a limitation notice with all trustee reports, including accountings and other disclosure documents. A valid limitation notice will shorten the timeframe in which a beneficiary is able to bring a lawsuit from several years to six months. Florida law requires that specific language be contained in a disclosure notice to be effective.

Can a trustee be removed?

A trustee can be removed by a judge or in accordance with the terms of a trust. If a trustee receives notification that they are being removed, it is important to take immediate action to ensure the removal is in accordance with the Florida trust code and the trust.

A trustee who has been removed still has certain obligations to the trust and its beneficiaries, including an obligation to account. Although a removed trustee will need to transfer trust assets to the successor trustee, they still have the right to set aside money to cover their potential expenses, which may include debts, taxes, attorney fees, and/or costs to prepare and serve an accounting. If there is uncertainty over a trustee's rights or the removal process, it may be necessary for the trustee or other interested party to file a court action in order to seek direction from the court.

Follow the link to the main page for Florida trust administrations.



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